Stages of Addiction

Stages of Addiction

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When talking about addiction, it’s important to understand that there are different stages that a person goes through. Although each person’s journey through addiction will differ, the stages they will go through will be consistent.

As we explore these stages to gain a deeper understanding of how the brain and body react, we’ll also look at the different stages of addiction, recovery and how rehabs in Arizona, such as Desert Cove Recovery, can help.

4 Stages of Addiction

When someone has a substance addiction, they don’t become addicted overnight. Their brains and bodies go through several stages.[1] These include:

Experimentation with Substances

For many people, they begin just trying out a drug. This experimentation is different for people at different age levels. Teenagers may decide to try a drug due to peer pressure. While adults may feel a different need to experiment for different reasons that can include:

  • Stress
  • Money Problems
  • Anxiety
  • Alleviating Pain

While some people may experiment and stop using drugs, other people move into the next stage of addiction.

Stages of Addiction 1

Using Substances Regularly

As people reach this stage, their drug use becomes more of a habit than something they experimented with. At this stage, they become more reliant on drugs to get through situations and get through difficult parts of their lives.

If someone reaches this stage, their substance abuse can begin to become noticeable. It can include things like:

  • Mood Swings
  • Withdrawal from Family and Friends
  • Risky Behaviors
  • Obsession with Drugs or Alcohol

When you begin to notice these signs in a loved one, trying to get them the help they need from rehabs in Arizona, such as Desert Cove Recovery, can make the difference. It can help to prevent them from continuing to use and reach the next stage of addiction.

Substance Dependence

During this stage, the brain and body crave more of the substance because there is now a higher tolerance. What once satisfied the urge no longer does. This makes someone more dependent on the substance. As the cravings mount, the drug of choice becomes the priority among all other things. 

When people reach this stage, they may become depressed, irritable, and have increased fatigue. As the body reaches this stage, the psychological cravings combined with the body’s need for the drug can lead to dangerous behavioral changes such as:

  • Neglecting friends, family, and work
  • Borrowing or stealing money
  • New friends connected to drugs and the addiction

Substance Dependence and Substance Addiction


The last stage of addiction is becoming addicted to the substance. When people reach this stage, their only concern is obtaining the next high. There is nothing else that matters. At this point, they may find it difficult to quit, even if they may want to.

Several behavioral changes are seen in this stage, such as:

  • Not eating or sleeping
  • Neglecting basic needs
  • Not having a schedule

At this stage, seeking help for addiction recovery is the next best step.

5 Stages of Addiction Recovery

Knowing the stages of addiction recovery is just as important as knowing the different stages of addiction. When discussing addiction recovery, you can typically expect these different stages. But everyone is different, so how and when they experience them will also differ.

The five stages of addiction recovery can include:[2]


During this stage, someone is unwilling to stop their drug use, no matter the consequences.


At this point, they may begin to change their way of thinking and look at the pros and cons of quitting the drug. Addicts may become more open to learning about Arizona drug treatment programs.

Stages of Addiction Recovery

Preparation Stage

When someone reaches this point, they have come to terms with the fact they have a problem and are ready to do something about it. They are ready to make positive changes in their lives.

Action Stage

This stage involves breaking the habits of addiction and developing new, positive ones.

Addiction Treatment in Arizona

Relapse Prevention and Recovery

At this point, the person continues to develop new habits to reduce cravings and relapse. It’s important to note that despite all efforts, relapse can occur. When this happens, staying on course with treatment is key.

Are you Looking for Rehabs in Arizona? Desert Cove Recovery Can Help

If you’re looking for rehabs in Arizona to help you combat your addiction, Desert Cove Recovery is here to help. We offer a variety of treatment programs, including detox referrals, 12-step programs, and holistic care. Our goal is to find the right type of treatment or combination of treatments that work for each patient. We understand that each patient’s addiction is different, so their treatment needs to reflect that.

Call Desert Cove Recovery today or reach out to us online so that you can learn about the many programs we offer and how we can help you get on the path to recovery.